This tourist season may have been mesmerizing for many Americans who chose European countries in order to spend some holidays after a year in lockdown.

Yet, those who postponed their trip to Europe for the end of summer and beyond may have to wait a little bit longer, in particular, if they haven’t been vaccinated yet as some European countries have started to ban non-essential travel for arrivals from the United States after the latter reported a surge in the number of COVID-19 infections.

Besides being profoundly affected by the Delta variant, the new COVID-19 variant known as Mu has been detected in 49 US States up to this point.

Therefore authorities in some European countries have decided to implement additional preventive measures in order to stop another COVID-19 epidemic wave.

EU Council Has Already Recommended to the Member States to Tighten Entry REstrictions for Americans

All travellers from the United States welcomed the Council of the European Union decision of June 18 when the US was included in the list of countries considered safe based on the rate of COVId-19 infections.

From June 18, travellers from the US were permitted to enter the majority of EU countries, restriction-free, even for non-essential purposes such as tourism.

However, last week, on August 30, the Council removed the United States together with five other countries from the safe list, urging its Member States to impose stricter entry rules for Americans and ban non-essential travel. Soon after the Council made its recommendation public, European countries started to make their position clear regarding the EU advice.

While some of them followed the Council’s advice, some other states clarified that they would not take such a step as the recommendation is not legally binding.

Before travelling to Europe, American travellers must know whether European countries implemented the EU Council recommendation or not.

Which EU Countries Have Applied the EU Recommendation & Which Have Refused to Do So?

Italy became the first country in the European Union that decided to follow the EU advice and tighten the rules for Americans.

On September 1, Bulgaria included the United States in its red list that consists of countries highly affected by the virus. Thus, regardless of their vaccination status, US travellers are banned from entering Bulgaria unless for specific exceptional cases.

Encouraged by the EU advice, authorities in Denmark also prohibited the entry for arrivals from the US as of September 6. However, authorities in Denmark emphasized that US travellers wishing to enter Denmark for essential purposes would be allowed to do so.

In an effort to stop the further spread of the virus, the Swedish government announced stringent entry requirements for Americans. However, authorities in Sweden announced that travellers wishing to enter the Scandinavian country for essential purposes would not be affected by the recent changes.

Regardless of their vaccination status, travellers from the US are also banned from entering Norway. As for the Netherlands, since September 6, Americans are required to present a recent negative result

Local tourists planning to visit Langkawi under the much-anticipated tourism bubble will need to use the services of travel agencies, said Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

The Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister said this requirement applies to fully vaccinated tourists who plan to travel by land.

“They will need to at least use the transport services provided by travel agencies from their respective starting destination to the jetty in Langkawi,” Nancy said during a press conference.

She added that travel agencies will help tourists to apply for permit from police to travel to Langkawi.

Meanwhile, those who are travelling by flight or from the neighbouring states of Kedah and Perlis don’t need to go through travel agencies. Travellers, however, will still be required to apply for permit from police.

“We urge people who want to travel to Langkawi to comply with the SOPs that have been set to ensure that the tourism bubble pilot project is successful,” she said.

Nancy also announced that the island will be opened to domestic tourists from all states, including those under Phase 1 of the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

However, those in localities under the enhanced movement control order will not be allowed to travel under the tourism bubble pilot project.

Most tourism activities will be allowed to resume under the tourism bubble pilot project in Langkawi. These include hotel stays, recreational and cultural activities.

The full list of SOP is available at motac.gov.my.

Americans have been advised to not travel to two more countries in the Schengen Area – Switzerland and Estonia – after a spike up in the number of Coronavirus cases detected in both.

Updating the Travel Advisory, which is reviewed every week, the US Department of State has changed the level of advice against travel Switzerland and Estonia from “Reconsider Travel” to “Do Not Travel”, which is the highest advisory level due to the greater likelihood of life-threatening risks, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Estonia due to COVID-19, indicating a very high level of COVID-19 in the country,” reads the advisory updated on August 30.

The same also notes for US citizens wishing to travel to these countries in spite of the advisory that being vaccinated with a vaccine authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration lowers the risk of contracting COVID-19 and developing severe symptoms. So far, the FDA has approved only Pfizer, Moderna and Janssen vaccines against COVID-19.

The Department of State has issued the same Travel Advisory for Switzerland as well.

Data by the World Health Organization show that since the beginning of the pandemic, Switzerland -which is home to a population of 8.545 million – has recorded a total of 773,583 COVID-19 cases, only six of which in the last 24 hours.

Estonia, which counts 1.325 million residents, has registered 357 cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the number of COVID-19 infections detected since the beginning of the pandemic to 141,956.

Only within the month of August, SchengenVisaInfo.com reported that the US first advised its citizens to not travel to Greece, Ireland and Malta on August 2, and then on August 9, it advised against travel to France and Iceland. The advice on travel to these countries has, however, changed since then.

The list of EU and Schengen Area countries, for which there is currently a Do Not Travel advisory goes as follows:

  • Cyprus, since July 26
  • Estonia, since August 30
  • France, since August 9
  • Greece, since August 2
  • Iceland, since August 23
  • Ireland, since August 2
  • Malta, since August 2
  • The Netherlands, since June 17
  • Portugal, since July 26
  • Spain, since July 26
  • Switzerland, since August 30

On Monday, August 30, the EU Council recommended to the Member States to reimpose an entry ban on non-essential restriction-free travel from the United States, after the same move was warned for more than a week, due to the increase in the number of COVID cases in the US.

U2, the Cranberries, Sinead O’Connor, Van Morrison, or Hozier are not the only reasons that made Ireland so famous through the years.

The country that has the harp as its national symbol, collecting some of the world’s oldest harps at Trinity College in Dublin, which shows that music is among the top features of this place.

Besides music, Ireland is also known for its land and sea views and delicious foods. However, the Coronavirus outbreak last year restricted the number of international visitors permitted to enter the country for non-essential purposes, including tourism.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ireland has registered over 349,770 COVID-19 infection cases. Still, despite such figures, at present, authorities in Ireland have eased some of their restrictions imposed to halt the further spread of the virus.

However, when planning to head to this country, travellers must carefully follow all the entry rules and current restrictions.

Who Can Enter Ireland Amid the Ongoing COVID-19 Outbreak?

On July 19, authorities in Ireland launched the EU Digital COVID Certificate, following the example of other European countries, in order to facilitate the travel process within the European Union and the European Economic Area as well as the Schengen Zone countries.

However, Ireland’s government clarified that it would also welcome visitors from Great Britain, the United States, and Canada, provided that they hold valid proof of vaccination or evidence of recovery from the virus in the last 180 days.

Ireland’s Ministry of Health has stressed that travel to Ireland from specific countries is subject to compulsory quarantine.

According to the same Ministry, citizens from the following countries are subject to mandatory hotel quarantine.

  • Argentina
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Ecuador (passengers who are not fully vaccinated will enter quarantine starting from 04.00 on Tuesday, August 31)
  • Peru

The Ministry of Health in Ireland has clarified that there are no countries from Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, or Oceania on the list of designated countries for mandatory quarantine.

“It is important to note that the list of designated States will be subject to change at short notice, and passengers are required to check the list before travelling to Ireland, to be sure of their obligations,” the Irish Ministry of Health has noted.

Which Vaccines Are Approved for Use in Ireland?

Ireland’s government accepts vaccines that are approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), specifically Comirnaty (BioNTech, Pfizer),  Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), and Moderna Vaxzevria ( AstraZeneca, Oxford).

Anyway, all EU Member States are permitted to decide if they want to allow internationals that have taken any of the vaccines not approved by EMA to enter their countries or not.

Currently, the vaccines recognized by EMA are Janssen (Johnson & Johnson), Comirnaty (BioNTech, Pfizer), and Moderna, Vaxzevria ( AstraZeneca, Oxford).

Travellers from European Union countries must complete the Passenger Locator Form before arriving in Ireland. They will also be required to:

  • hold proof of vaccination,
  • a negative COVID-19 PCR test result, not older than 72 hours,
  • or proof that they have recovered

That being said, history is unlikely to repeat itself with the Singapore-Germany travel bubble, owing to the advancement of Singapore’s and Germany’s Covid-19 vaccination rate, at 74 per cent and 58 per cent of each country’s population. This travel bubble will allow travellers from both countries to enjoy leisure travel without needing quarantine or stay-home notice (SHN).


If you’re reading this, you’ve probably completed your course of (vaccine, not tequila) shots, and you’re probably bored of taking the same old staycations or daycations. It’s time to relive the thrill of takeoff, the appreciation for different scenery and people!


When will Singapore & Germany’s travel bubble commence?


The Singapore-Germany travel bubble, or Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), will start on Sept 8, 2021, according to a SafeTravel news release from ICA. This means Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) can just fly to and from Germany without having to quarantine or serve SHN in either country from that date onwards.


Who is allowed to travel between Singapore & Germany’s travel bubble?


Under the VTL, Singapore citizens and PRs will be able to travel unrestricted between both countries. This means that you do not have to quarantine, serve SHN or follow a restricted itinerary.


Germany has been allowing Singapore citizens and PRs unrestricted entry since June 25, 2021, and now Singapore is simply doing the same.


There are a few caveats though. If you’re not a Singapore citizen or PR but you’ve completed your vaccination course, and you’re travelling to Germany, you will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP). Applications open on Sept 1, 2021. 


What are the requirements to travel between Singapore & Germany?


Here is a summary of what you need to travel to Germany as a Singaporean or PR:


1. Preparing for your trip


Before you fly, you’ll need to be in Singapore for the past 21 days. Not an issue since borders are closed.


Check for travel requirements into Germany here. You are considered vaccinated only if you have one of Germany’s accepted vaccines: only Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are accepted. More info here.


Do not rely on your TraceTogether app to get you through Germany’s border control! Print or save PDF your vaccine certificate from National Immunisation Registry or HealthHub App. 


Your Covid-19 vaccine certificate should include the following details:


  • Particulars of the person vaccinated
  • Date & number of vaccinations
  • Name of vaccine used
  • Seal of authentication 


2. Booking your flights


You will need to book a designated VTL flight from Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa.


Your flight to Germany can be any direct flight. If you book a transit flight, then you will void the 21 consecutive days in Singapore or Germany requirement.


Whenever I hear the word “travel bubble”, I can’t help but to get a tiny bit triggered because of the unspoken jinx that befell the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble, causing it to close within two weeks after its launch.

That being said, history is unlikely to repeat itself with the Singapore-Germany travel bubble, owing to the advancement of Singapore’s and Germany’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, at 74% and 58% of each country’s population. This travel bubble will allow travellers from both countries to enjoy leisure travel without needing quarantine or stay-home notice (SHN).

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably completed your course of (vaccine, not tequila) shots, and you’re probably bored of taking the same old staycations or daycations. It’s time to relive the thrill of takeoff, the appreciation for different scenery and people!

When will Singapore & Germany’s travel bubble commence?

The Singapore-Germany travel bubble, or Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), will start on 8 September 2021, according to a SafeTravel news release from ICA. This means Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) can just fly to and from Germany without having to quarantine or serve SHN in either country from that date onwards.

Who is allowed to travel between Singapore & Germany’s travel bubble?

Under the VTL, Singapore citizens and PRs will be able to travel unrestricted between both countries. This means that you do not have to quarantine, serve SHN or follow a restricted itinerary.

Germany has been allowing Singapore citizens and PRs unrestricted entry since 25 June 2021, and now Singapore is simply doing the same.

There are a few caveats though. If you’re not a Singapore citizen or PR but you’ve completed your vaccination course, and you’re travelling to Germany, you will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP). Applications open on 1 September 2021.

What are the requirements to travel between Singapore & Germany?

Here is a summary of what you need to travel to Germany as a Singaporean or PR:

1. Preparing for your trip

Before you fly, you’ll need to be in Singapore for the past 21 days. Not an issue since borders are closed.

Check for travel requirements into Germany here. You are considered vaccinated only if you have one of Germany’s accepted vaccines: only Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are accepted. More info here.

Do not rely on your TraceTogether app to get you through Germany’s border control! Print or save PDF your vaccine certificate from National Immunisation Registry or HealthHub App.

Your COVID-19 vaccine certificate should include the following details:

2. Booking your flights

You will need to book a designated VTL flight from Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa.

Your flight to Germany can be any direct flight. If you book a transit flight, then you will void the 21 consecutive days in Singapore or Germany requirement.

Your return flight to Singapore needs to be a designated VTL flight with the following flight numbers:

At time of writing, return trips

Travel restrictions are a hot topic at the moment with pretty much every country in the world introducing measures to curb COVID infections from foreign travel.

Although the restrictions can often be confusing and are subject to change, one common feature is requiring a negative test or proof of vaccination for entry at the border.

But these tests can often be expensive, costing as much as £175 (€205), and there are concerns that passengers are committing test fraud.

In November last year seven people were arrested at Charles de Gaulle airport, France, for having 200 fake COVID test certificates on their phones.

In a similar incident at Luton airport in the UK, a man was arrested on suspicion of selling fake COVID test certificates in February of this year.

Meanwhile a British immigration official told a parliamentary committee that as many as 100 artificial COVID documents were being used to get into the country, and that’s just the ones that were easy to spot.

The maximum penalty for fraud by false representation in the UK is a 10-year jail sentence.

This year, international security agency Europol has warned of the dangers and easy access to fake COVID certificates.

How concerned should we be about travellers sticking to COVID restrictions?

There have been reports that in Zanzibar negative lateral flow tests are sold en-route to the airport and that tests are being inadequately conducted on tourists in Egypt, guaranteeing a negative result.

Sean* had to book a pre-departure test to return from his holiday in Crete to the UK.

“They did the COVID test, we went outside and had our test taken. It was a rapid antigen lateral flow test,” he says.

“It wasn’t very sterile, they didn’t use gloves.

“The pharmacist didn’t put three swabs in the nose properly. It was kind of a nominal amount. Within about two minutes the pharmacist confirmed that I had a negative result.”

A pre-departure COVID-19 test is required when entering the UK from any country.

“The lateral flow test was what we’d have in the UK,” continues Sean.

“We went inside and when we got to the desk the pharmacist charged us €35 and printed off a certificate. It seemed the pharmacist was printing off a certificate rather than conducting a test.”

Immigration officials in the UK have said they mostly rely on trust that people are following the rules, and even say that if COVID certificates are in foreign languages they can’t tell if they’re fake or not.

Sean adds that fellow travellers didn’t seem bothered by the relaxed attitude of pharmacy staff.

“The attitude amongst many holiday-makers was that whether they are negative or not they want to go back to the UK when they planned to do so,” he says.

“I didn’t feel comfortable knowing my test hadn’t been done properly.

“It seemed like the transaction was for a certificate to fly.”

When Sean arrived in Heathrow, no one checked the documents for his pre-departure COVID test. “When I

Mark Bibby Jackson is passionate about travel and sharing the joys of visiting new places and people. He is the founder and group editor of websites Travel Begins at 40 and London Begins at 40, as well as the award-winning author of three thrillers set in Cambodia. Here he tells us how to get going on an international trip after COVID has kept us all at home.

The UK Government has removed restrictions for travellers entering or returning to the country to self-isolate, except from red list countries. And it’s left many people considering whether this means the time has finally come to resume international travel.

My answer is yes, so long as you feel comfortable doing so – for your safety is paramount.

It is essential that you check the current requirements both prior to booking your travel and before your departure, for regulations might change in the intervening period.

But, having said that, there are clear and tangible benefits for travelling as soon as you feel ready to do so.

Here are four good reasons to get on the plane again:

4. You’re worth it

After the past couple of years we all deserve a break. And with 100,000 COVID cases per day being predicted for the height of the summer, it could be argued that international travel is safer than staying at home.

I recently travelled to North Wales, which is not international travel for me in the UK, but the sense of relief I felt from breaking away from my domestic shackles was overwhelming.

As a professional traveller this might be expected, but my companion felt the same way. We all need a break.

3. It’s a chance to visit previous tourist hotspots

The great news is that now you can visit all those places you had at the top of your bucket list but were afraid to visit pre-COVID due to the crowds.

Overtourism is now a thing of the past – albeit temporarily. Visitor numbers to popular tourism destinations are unlikely to return to 2019 levels any time soon, so you can visit places in a way that has not proved possible since the relatively recent explosion in tourism, and often at prices not seen for years.

Is now the time for you to ride on a gondola in Venice?

A good friend of mine, based in Cambodia, recently visited Angkor and was amazed by the lack of tourism. Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat were deserted, reminding him of the first time he visited in the 1990s.

Currently, UK travellers are not able to visit Cambodia without entering a period of hotel quarantine, but if the current Thai Phuket sandbox experiment proves successful the likelihood is that international quarantine-free tourism will return to Southeast Asia towards the end of the year or beginning of 2022.

Take advantage of this window, for tourism will return to all these places, and perhaps sooner than you think.

2. Tourism needs you

Few, if any, industries have suffered

Whether you enjoy beautiful coasts like Greece’s Caldera, Italy’s Amalfi, Spain’s Ibiza and Majorca, or cultural and classic destinations such as Louvre Museum in France and Brandenburg Gate in Germany, Europe is a diverse destination that one must visit.

Just like other parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the European countries hard and forced them to close all of their external borders in order to protect public health by halting the further spread of the Coronavirus within the countries, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

On March 17, 2020, the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen, together with the President of EU Council Charles Michael, announced that the EU bodies had decided to close the EU’s external borders for non-essential travel to the EU for 30 days, but this lasted until June 30, 2020.

However, as the epidemiological situation inside and outside European countries started to improve, Member States decided to abolish such measures and gradually began to lift the restrictions for EU travellers and several third countries that have been registering low infection rates.

Such lifting of restrictions was further supported by the introduction of the EU Digital COVID-19 Passport, which started being effective on July 1, after the EU Commission considered it to be an efficient way of monitoring the movement of travellers within the EU and Schengen Area countries.

EU Nationals Travelling Throughout the Block

Except for the restrictions imposed against arrivals from outside the 27-nation block, the new strains of the virus pushed several EU/Schengen Area countries to close their internal borders and enforce strict restrictions for any arrivals from a Coronavirus high-risk country.

Denmark, Finland, Germany, Portugal, and Spain were just some of the Schengen Area countries that reintroduced internal border checks back in February.

However, since the pandemic situation started to improve, EU citizens were permitted to travel within the block without being subject to strict rules.

Several EU countries have been imposing restrictions on and off, but in general, restriction-free entry is allowed to all EU citizens travelling within the block. Still, it should be kept in mind that to be able to travel freely within the block, one should hold an EU Digital COVID-19 Passport.

As such all holders of the document can travel to other Member/Schengen Associated countries for non-essential purposes without having to undergo stringent restrictions, like additional testing and quarantine requirements.

The EU Digital COVID-19 Passport has been established by the EU Commission and is digital proof that a person has either:

  • Been fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 disease
  • Received a negative COVID-19 test result
  • Recovered from the disease

“National authorities are in charge of issuing the certificate. It could, for example, be issued by test centres or health authorities, or directly via an eHealth portal. Information on how to get the certificate should be provided by the national health authorities,” the Commission noted.

In addition, the main features of the certificate are as follows:

  • Can be issued in digital or paper format
  • Includes a unique QR code
  • A free-of-charge

For all those wishing to take a ride at Amsterdam’s Canals, visit the country’s famous museums, picturesque villages and astonishing gardens, it is now safe to say that you can pack your bags as the Netherlands has largely opened for travellers all over the world after months of keeping in place strict lockdowns and travel measures.

More relaxed rules were announced by the country as the Digital COVID Passport was established at the beginning of July, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

As such, the country was able to allow more travellers to enter the country, whether they were arriving from European Union Member States, European Economic Area, or third countries.

Who Is Permitted to Enter the Netherlands?

Travellers from 57 countries who have been fully vaccinated, including here the residents of the 27 European Union Member States and tens of third countries, can enter the Netherlands restriction-free as these countries have been registering low infection rates.

For a person to be considered fully vaccinated when entering the Netherlands, it should be proved that the vaccination process has been completed with one of the vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and issued in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish.

The Netherlands also recognises the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute India.

“You may travel to the Netherlands, the EU travel ban does not apply to you. If you are coming from a country where the risk of contracting COVID-19 is low (a safe country), you do not need to show a negative test result. You are also not required to self-quarantine when you arrive in the Netherlands,” the Government of Netherlands statement reads.

However, it should be noted that travellers entering the Netherlands from one of the countries placed on its safe countries/regions list are still obliged to fill in a health declaration form if travelling by air.

Consequently, except for the 27-nation bloc, restriction-free entry is allowed to arrivals from Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Norway, Switzerland, and the following third countries which have been added to the list of epidemiologically safe countries:

  • Albania
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • China’s administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kosovo
  • Lebanon
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • New Zealand
  • North Macedonia
  • Qatar
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • United States

Travelling to the Netherlands From Virus Variant & Very High-Risk Areas

The Dutch authorities have stated that arrivals from virus variant areas are currently banned. A person can enter the Netherlands from one of the countries listed under the virus variant areas list only if the purpose of their trip falls under the category of exemptions.

In such cases, when specific persons are exempted from the entry ban when travelling from a virus variant area, they are obliged to stay self-isolated for ten days. The requirement applies to persons who have been vaccinated as well.

“You must be able to show a completed, printed and signed quarantine declaration. You may be fined if you do not have